Thursday, February 18, 2010

Home Remodeling: Contractors & Choices

No photo today, just some reviews and thoughts.

First Up: Contractors

I'll be the first to admit that I am REALLY awful about looking around and getting second opinions. I tend to seek out referrals from people I know. If I like the first person I meet, they seem honest, and the price ain't bad, then I just tend to go with them. But, since this is a big project, at least to us anyway, we've agreed that looking around and getting estimateS would be wise.

The first guy I've met with is David Harmon. He came highly recommended from a real estate agent friend. While she hadn't personally used him, the word was good. I called him, he answered the phone & told me he had been expecting my call. Quite a nice surprise! He said he wasn't feeling too good that day, so it may be the end of the week before he could get out to see me, which was fine. Then he said to give him a couple hours to see how he felt. Much to my shock, he called back and wanted to be here at 3.
He arrived on time, brought a camera with him along with his other stuff and we went to the kitchen. I showed him the problems and he presented me with ideas. LOTS of ideas. Lots of DIFFERENT ideas. Like "have you thought about moving the fridge over here??" kind of ideas. And "since you need a pantry, what about doing this .." ideas.
Some of his ideas I had a knee-jerk "no" reaction to only because things have been the way they are for so long that this is just how they are. But I didn't tell him that, I tried to keep it to myself.
He ended up spending two hours here, mainly just talking over possible ideas, and taking photos. He told me to talk things over with Justin, to go out this weekend and look around at things (tile we might want for example) and he'd see us again on Sunday so that he can get a BETTER look at everything! He also plans on bringing samples with him.
~Ok Carrie, calm down, don't get giddy. Remember, you promised you'd get more than one estimate!!~

I also contacted Adam Cohen from Structures. We'd like to make this renovation as green as possible (David Harmon does a lot of green work too) and Adam is really known for that in the Valley. I called in the morning and left him a message. He called me back yesterday afternoon.
We talked a bit on the phone. Really, I need to learn to not answer the phone when I've been napping as I tend to feel like an idiot after the conversation is done.
He talked about what could be causing the possible leaks. I told him some of the other things we were looking at having done and our interest in being as green as possible. I don't think I interested him.
He told me that first I needed to have another guy, Rob Leonard (I think, stupid sleepy brain), who worked in their firm come out and look at things and do the numbers. Adam is apparently the designer. First you get the numbers guy, then you get the designer. Rob wasn't in though and Adam told me that he would tell him to call. Almost 24 hours later, still waiting. We'll see how long this takes.

So Far - Over-all feelings about possible contractors are that I liked "the little guy" much, much more. When talking with Adam I felt like I was dealing with a "big business." Structures IS a big business, but it was the feeling of dealing with a big business. I'm still going to give them a chance, but so far, they're not in the lead.

Choices, Choices -What to get, where to get it!

What exactly do we need?? Ok, well, we need a new stove/range. We need a new fridge. Then there is the countertops that we're looking at having changed from laminate to tile, and the flooring which we'll have changed from laminate "faux" tiles to either bamboo (one of David Harmon's ideas) or maybe tile.
David recommended that we go out and look at some things we may want on Saturday, so we can better get an idea of things. He recommended we check out Home Depot (apparently he can get a better deal there), but didn't put down Lowe's.
A friend commented on my "Ideas" post and mentioned the Habitat store downtown as a good source for supplies. Carole, I'm taking your advice!!! :)
On Saturday we'll head down to the Habitat store to see what we can find. We can't purchase anything now, which is likely to be hard, but I do plan on taking my camera. It never hurts to look, right? From there we'll head out to Lowe's and Home Depot to get ideas on materials - mainly tile. The idea is that the Habitat store will be our "Plan A" when it comes time to actually buy stuff and that the box stores will be "Plan B" in case we can't find what we want at Habitat. By the way, in case you don't know what I am talking about when I say Habitat store, or why it is good to check there first, follow this link -

As for the fridge and stove. We've been comparing selections and prices between the big box stores. Online shopping is just really cool and makes this part nice and easy. So far, Lowe's wins hands down for ease-of-use with their website and selection.
We've found a fridge that seems to be perfect, and is $500 cheaper than a comparable model from a different company. Not too bad. Good reviews too! Huzzah!
As for stoves. It is weird to me that a stove will cost me more than a fridge, but with as much as I put stoves and ranges through, I have criteria that need to be met. Lowe's and Home Depot have the same exact one I'm looking at, though it is currently on sale at Home Depot, making it $500 cheaper than the exact same model at Lowe's. Even if it weren't on sale it would be $400 cheaper. Wow, don't these guys try and watch the competitor's prices??

That basically sums up the first round of this new adventure. I will definitely keep you posted on how things go though.
Your thoughts and opinions are DEFINITELY recommended and appreciated!! Carole, if you hadn't mentioned the Habitat store it likely would've slipped my mind. If we end up shopping there, I'll be singing your praises for a while!!


Carole and Chewy said...

Glad I could help Carrie - the only thing I would warn against is that whatever you see at Habitat, it may not be there next time. So if you see a black soapstone sink that is EXACTLY what you want -and you fall in love with it, and promise to always always love it -better to buy it and then design the kitchen around it. Trust me.
Someone somewhere has my black soapstone sink that I decided to think about. I still have dreams about a sink of bright red tomatoes and crispy romaine heads being rinsed in that deep black sink.....

Elena said...

I hope you don't mind but you are going to be my "guinea pig." I want work done around here too but just don't know where to begin!

One thing I can impart on you is about ceramic tiles for your kitchen floor. First off the guy who did mine let me pick some out which were beautiful but weren't meant for the floor, but the wall, so not too sturdy. When he laid them down he was hungover so he did not do a good job making sure there were no "air pockets" underneath. If there are the tiles will crack easily. And ohmigod there are cracks everywhere! The worst part about using tiles for the floor is that anything, and I mean anything you drop will shatter along with the tile. And once you get tiles you will suddenly develop a case of the dropsies. Another problem is the tile grout wasn't sealed properly so it changed color. The tiles looked great for a couple of months now a couple of years later, they're a wreck. Would I tile the kitchen floor again, no way. Meanwhile I used different tiles in my sunroom and bedroom and loooooove them. Very durable and easy to keep clean. I want to know more about bamboo...I think I'll google that!

Good luck!